You know how parents say, “I never knew I could love something so much until I had a child.” I finally know what they’re talking about! That’s honestly how I feel as a dog parent. It’s scary how much I love our bulldog, Rosie. That goofy face, her stubby tail, and how she wiggles her butt when she prances… it’s too much!
Recently we had a scare. Rosie started limping on her hind legs. She was clearly in pain. I burst into tears, wanting to take her to the vet right then and there, but it was midnight and I knew it would have to wait until morning. Rosie is about 6-years-old. Bulldogs don’t have a long life span, and they’re prone to hip dysplasia and arthritis… so naturally, I feared the worst. I worried she may need surgery, or could have an injury she would never recover from. I had my first realization that she won’t be around forever. It was devastating! Fortunately, the vet said it looked like she had inflamed joints and the beginning stages of arthritis. It was treatable!
As if I needed another reason, I made a promise to Rosie that I would do anything I could to keep her happy and healthy. It got me thinking about what Rosie really loves, what she needs, and steps we take to be responsible dog parents. I thought I would share some of our top routines with you, and I would love to hear what other dog parents do to keep their precious pooches drooling and slobbering with joy!
***Disclaimer: I am not a vet or a dog expert. These routines work for us, but they are not to be used as prescriptions or suggestions for all dogs. Please consult your own vet before starting any new routines for your pet.
10. Supplements/Regular Vet Visits: Of course, I’m starting with the responsible stuff. (We’ll get to the fun stuff in a bit!) I don’t have to tell you why it’s important to get regular check-ups, do I? What I did learn from our scare is how important supplements are, especially for bulldogs. Rosie was on them when we first got her, and we let it go, which may have exacerbated her joint problems. Now
we make sure she never skips a dose of her “Rejuvenate” and we continue to feed her “senior dog food” with lots of Glucosamine for healthy joints
9. Toys: Commence fun stuff! Rosie does not like to “play.” What a weirdo! No fetch, no tug of war… none of that. Her outlet is chewing. She snags a shoe here or there and she can rip a plastic hanger to pieces! But mostly, she sticks to her “approved” chew toys, thank goodness! Her favorites are Nyla Bones and ropes. I just bought her a new one that is supposed to help clean her teeth! That leads me to:
8. Clean Teeth: This one, I admit, we are bad about. Rosie gets her teeth cleaned during her regular visits, but she needed to have a couple teeth pulled last time. We have been warned to keep up with her brushing, but it’s been tough following through… mostly due to our laziness. We bought her a special doggy toothbrush and toothpaste, hopefully this motivates me to use them more often!
7. Strange Indulgences: File this one in the “keeping dog happy column.” Each dog, I’ve discovered, has their own strange quirks. Some are belly rub lovers. Others like ear scratches. Rosie is a back/butt scratch gal! She will sit still for a half hour if I scratch her back while watching TV. It’s great bonding time! Don’t ask me why, but she also loves licking feet. It grosses me out, but sometimes my husband indulges her. Ewww!
6. Keeping Cool: This is a biggie, especially for bulldogs. Because of their smooshed noses and breathing problems, bulldogs need to be kept out of the heat. That means no dog parks on hot, hot days… and no being left in cars, ever! She loves the bathroom tile, and we bought her a “Cool Bed III” during a recent heat wave because we have no air conditioning. She was hesitant at first, but now she loves it! More on that here.
5. Picking Up: This one is a no-brainer, especially if you share a yard or dog walking space. These days, you can buy environmentally friendly waste bags, and cute containers that can clip right on to your leash so you’re always ready to perform the necessary pooper-scooper duties!
4. Keeping Clean: We all know dogs need baths every now and then, just like humans. Bulldogs come with daily cleaning requirements. Their folds and wrinkles need to be cleaned every day to clear out the gunky buildup and make sure the skin under the folds doesn’t get infected. Think of it like cleaning your ears! We found that baby wipes work well for daily cleaning. A previous vet recommended them. They’re gentle on sensitive skin. We follow that up by putting a thin layer of Desitin under the folds to prevent chapping. Rosie HATES IT! This routine is followed by 15 minutes of hard-core pouting, no exceptions!
3. Toenails: Rosie’s toenails grow faster than Pinocchio’s nose when he lies! We normally have the vet trim them when she goes in for check-ups, but she also needs them trimmed in between. We bought an “as seen on tv” Pedi-Paws, but it wasn’t very powerful. At least not for Rosie’s nails. Then we bought a Dremel. It’s rechargeable and more powerful. It also has better abrasive heads, but they wear down so you need to replace them after a while. We’ve never tried actually clipping her nails. I’m too afraid I’ll hurt her, I guess!
2. Meeting New “Friends” Rosie LOVES people. Downside: people don’t always love ROSIE. I realize some people are just scared of dogs. That’s ok! I feel the same way about cats. Some people also mistakenly think Rosie is ferocious because of her underbite, her exuberance, and her mission to get petted by as many people as she can in a day. We’re also trying to break her of jumping on people! It probably doesn’t help that we encourage her to jump on us because we love her. We’re not perfect pet parents!
1. Treats!!! Saving the best for last!! Rosie knows quite a few words. “Wanna go outside?” (Mostly you just have to say “wanna” and she bolts for the door!) “Dinner,” “Breakfast,” and “Treat” also catch her ear. That’s when the drool starts dripping. (Thank you, Pavlov!) Rosie gets a treat whenever we come in from going potty and usually after we clean her face (totally a bribe, or an “I’m sorry we just tortured you!”) If we forget, she’ll sit in her “spot” near the treat bin and patiently wait until you remember to reward her for being a good pooper! So stinkin’ cute! There are all kinds of treats out there and Rosie hasn’t met one she didn’t like. My advice is to take into consideration any possible allergies if you switch treats. We also try to get treats that help her teeth and are good for her joints. Yes, we splurge on treats. Sometimes a medium-sized bag can cost $12, but I spend $4 almost every day on Starbucks so I consider the treats “Starbucks for dogs!”
I’d love to hear how other pet parents try to keep their “best buddies” happy. Share your tricks of the trade, won’t you?!?!
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